Acupressure & Yoga

I’ve been reading a book recently called Acu-Yoga: The Acupressure Stress Management Book. In the past I didn’t really think much about acupressure/acupuncture. I didn’t know very much about it, so I never really had an opinion of it. I had believed it was somewhat controversial regarding whether or not it was considered “real” medicine or pseudoscience. However, never having tried it or read anything about it myself, I withheld judgement. Only recently did I become interested in the subject. I stumbled upon the topic in a very unusual way, but have practically become obsessed with learning more since then.

I had been watching a YouTube documentary about the history of drugs in the black community. (Unfortunately I am unable to find it now to provide the link.) To my surprise, through this documentary, I learned that acupressure and acupuncture were actually originally brought to the US by the Black Panther Party. In their effort to dismantle institutionalized racism in this country, the Black Panthers utilized these forms of Chinese medicine to help members of the black community detox from drugs like crack and heroin. The most surprising thing of all is that it actually worked.

Given my psychology background, I learned a lot about drugs and withdrawal. So I know how serious detoxing off of hard drugs can be. It’s one of the reasons that make it so hard for people to stop using. The idea that something as simple and holistic as acupressure could get people through their detox absolutely astounds and fascinates me. That was all I needed to hear to believe that there must really be something to this acupressure stuff. Since then I have been researching the practice and reading everything I can find on the subject.

Coincidentally around the same time, my yoga studio got a new book, the one I mentioned earlier. I was so excited to borrow it and learn how to incorporate acupressure into my yoga practice. I have come to find out that acupressure and yoga go hand in hand. They compliment one another. There are many acupressure points I have been hitting without realizing it, simply by doing different yoga poses. However, the second half of the book really goes into more detail about how you can target specific conditions or address certain physical/mental/emotional needs by including acupressure more intentionally into your daily practice.

After a week or so of practicing what I’ve learned, I finally decided to share it with my yoga students in class today. Only one person showed up this morning, sadly, but she did seem to really enjoy the flow I planned. I had to stifle my laughter as she got pretty vocal towards the end. Moaning and sighing from sheer bliss. Hearing these types of sounds from students is probably the best compliment you can receive as a yoga teacher. I was honored to pass on my newly acquired knowledge.

I had never really connected the dots until now, but I have actually been a lot less anxious since adding this new aspect into my practice. It could be a coincidence, but acupressure is supposed to be extremely helpful for anxiety. One of the best things about it is that you can use it anywhere. Even though it’s possible to do yoga anywhere, like in your car or at your desk during work, it can be somewhat distracting or embarrassing if you know other people can see you. A lot of acupressure points can be pressed without drawing any attention at all. For example, one of the points that is good for anxiety is the fleshy space between your thumb and pointer finger. Pinching this area with the opposite hand is something that you can do without anyone else even noticing.

Whatever your opinion of acupressure, I would highly recommend giving it a try for yourself, even if it’s only pressing a few hand points as you wait in line at the grocery store. It has definitely been a valuable addition to my daily yoga practice and to my life in general. If any of you have any experience with acupressure or acupuncture, I would love to hear from you! How long have you been using it? Has it helped you? How so? Where did you first learn about it? I’m eager to learn all I can so that I may pass it on to others.

Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata on Pexels.com

Raised as One

I’ve read that Asian cultures generally practice collectivism. Focusing on the betterment of the whole rather than the goals and desires of the individual. This can be seen reflected even in anime. It’s easy to notice the difference between these shows and American programs. The characters are much more concerned with their family, friends, community, and humanity as a whole than themselves.

In the United States, this is almost diametrically opposed to the way we live. Americans seem to always put themselves first, maybe extending this to close family occasionally. We practice individualism and pride ourselves on our country’s focus towards individual freedoms. And while this does allow more personal independence, it feels rather isolating.

As a species, we evolved to live and work together, to support one another in order to survive. We were never meant to be on our own. I think this is one reason feeling isolated leads to so many mental health problems. Our deepest instincts are crying out that we are not safe, that something is wrong, that it is bad to be alone, dangerous even.

All of this got me thinking back to how ultimately we are all one. Irrevocably connected, pieces of a whole. Seeing what a difference different cultural beliefs can make in a society, I began to wonder. What if we took collectivism even farther? What if humans taught their children not only the value of looking out for their friends and neighbors, but that those very people were in fact a part of them, an extension of themselves? Imagine how different the world might be.

This is more of an interesting thought experiment than something I believe could or would actually be put into practice. However, I would love to see what kind of world that would create. If we were all raised from the very beginning to believe that we were not merely this physical body we inhabit, but actually just a branch of that massive tree of life, of existence. How different would society have developed? Would we still have wars? Would we have destroyed this planet that we are an extension of?

I don’t pretend to know what effect this type of culture would have on humanity. But it is certainly interesting to think about. I know I wish I had been raised that way. So that I could fully rest in the belief that I am merely a cresting wave in the ocean of existence. Maybe then I wouldn’t retain this fear of returning to the ocean.